Healing

Pathway 22 – At-Tawwab – Returning to Rhythm

“When you are guided to this pathway, take the opportunity to stop what you are doing, soften within, and allow your heart to return to the right rhythm in time with the heart of the Beloved.” The Sufi Book of Life, Neil Douglas-Klotz.

As always, whichever pathway I choose seems to be the exact one to meet my needs. I chose this pathway when I returned from my spiritual pilgrimage to Konya again walking in to the spiritual trap of asking for what is needed, receiving it and then wondering why it was all happening. I am certain that my Allah and the friends he has appointed to guide my journey all have a sense of humour!

This pathway is about Returning to Rhythm. The rhythm of the One Beloved. During my pilgrimage I felt this rhythm and I felt it deeply. Rumi talks about sinking to the bottom of the ocean and allowing the current to take you. At this point, you are in the heartspace of least resistance. It is exactly this heart led space that takes you to where you need to be because it is in rhythm with the Divine Heartbeat and at one and in alignment with the rhythm all of creation. You feel you are part of this One and at the same time, you flow through your own path with ease and grace.

I have trouble articulating the feeling in words because it just has to be experienced. There are no words and to be honest, words can only get in the way of this feeling. This is one of the deepest lessons of this pathway. In Konya, my heart did the speaking without any words. I was in solitude and silence for much of the time that I was away, encased in my own heavenly blissful being. As soon as I landed, I had to “have words” as my suitcase was on a different aircraft to the one I arrived on. My first test of letting go and I was fuming. The words didn’t come easy and it felt like I created my own blockages again.

It was as if I didn’t get a chance to even catch my breath before I was thrown in to life, head first. Worlds apart from where I had been in the serenity and peace of Konya. If Konya was the gentle humming of the harp then being back here felt like screeching death metal. It felt like I was holding my own internal rhythm for the first week or so and then I don’t know what happened but life took over.

I found my diary brimming and the ideas non-stop and yes, I was buzzing but in the midst of all that, my mum had a fall that resulted in a hip replacement. So with mum in hospital and various other family matters to take care of, I was running back and forth like a headless chicken with that in the background. All of this coming at a critical time for my business with some launches that had been planned for January derailed and delayed.

Life had done it to me once again yet given the time and reflection, I’ve realised that this is my Shaikh, my Master at work and even though I had left Konya, he wasn’t done with teaching me and I don’t think he ever will be. At least he has a sense of humour about it! Hence this pathway has been such a deep learning curve for me.

Now I’ve worked extremely hard and fought my ego to ensure that my foundations are solid, especially when it comes to my own spiritual practices. Even with this foundation, I found that I was wobbling and when you’re having a wobble, the discipline is all the more challenging to maintain. I was in the middle of an earthquake. The one thing that keeps me solid is solitude because it gives me headspace. Without the time and space, it feels like an earthquake. This is a deep lesson for me.

So when it comes to exploring this pathway, there are 4 key aspects that need to be explored. What is life calling us to look at in any stressful situation? This is where the pathway plays a key part if we can keep these aspects in mind.

The first is “Stop what you are doing.” This isn’t simply in the literal and physical sense although there is an element of prioritising and re-prioritising your commitments and being brave enough to drop things. I found that I had to cut down on client work because I just wasn’t in the head space for it.

This stop what you are doing made me acknowledge that I needed to stop what I was doing to myself. I hadn’t fully taken notice that I was beating myself up mentally and emotionally for not being able to keep up with the demands on my time and energy. I realised when I wrote down all of the things that I was juggling on a piece of paper. I did this to work out whether it’s me and I’m disorganised and slow or whether I do really have a lot of balls to juggle. It’s then I realised that actually, I was doing pretty well considering just how much was going on. That really helped me to stop and let go of the guilt and the burden that I put on myself.

The second aspect is to “Soften within.” Now this is where I was brought back to Rumi’s analogy of the spiritual journey boiling and cooking you like a pressure cooker. All that boiling will soften you to the core. And when you are in the midst of it all, you don’t realise that you’re being cooked and softened. Often it’s these pressure points that are preparing us for the next part of our journey. It’s only when you soften that you begin to accept what’s happening and gladly keep going even through you know you’re walking through fire.

The third aspect is “Allowing your heart to return” and this is the permission that we give ourselves to come back to our natural rhythm. With so much going on, I wasn’t giving myself the permission to be in solitude. I was also allowing everything to impose in to my space without taking what I needed and for me, it’s solitude that keeps me balanced. An introvert at heart, it definitely felt like I was doing too much “people-ing” and not getting enough time and space to fill myself back up again.

The fourth aspect is acknowledging the “Right rhythm” and this is in time with the heart of the Beloved. This for me touches deeply on the idea that Allah’s plan is better than the plan that we have made for ourselves. Indeed, it also directs us to understanding the natural flow of life. Just as the shore comes in and out, life also has it’s own timing. One of my biggest lessons in Konya was exactly this. Instead of trying to make the tide come in and out, I needed to understand that it flows in accordance with Divine timing. This is why we are asked to let go because much of this learning can’t be undertaken without the eyes of experience.

In that struggle to allow what is meant to be to flow towards you, you have to stop trying to make things happen. You have to relinquish the responsibility that you feel and allow your host on this Earth to take care of everything for you. This again demands surrender. Not partial surrender. Full surrender.

How do we do this?

It isn’t something that can be articulated because it doesn’t come from the mind. It comes from the heart.

Remember that your heart beats in time with the rhythm of the Universe and it does this effortlessly without you having to do anything at all. If you understand that, that’s all you need to know.

Healing

Pathway 21 – Al Karim – Abundant Expression

“When you are guided to this pathway, take the opportunity to feel yourself as part of Allah’s continual, creative expression, which carves out new realities each instant through an abundance of forms.” The Sufi Book of Life, Neil Douglas-Klotz.

The first idea that I want to focus on is that you can create something from nothing. Many of us have, again and again sometimes. The pathways always mirror what is happening in the healing room and often we see someone come in who has lost everything and has the perception that they have nothing. From this “nothing” is how a future, a path and a direction is created. We have no choice but to create or co-create our lives and this is the crux of the pathway for me.

It is an understanding that new realities can be carved out, created, changed in a range of different ways from a space where there is apparently nothing. There is always a way towards what you are seeking because it is always seeking you. It’s the void, the lack, the absence of something that makes us pursue its creation and co-creation. It makes us understand the power of Creator and how this is expressed through our reality in each moment. Where it appears there is nothing left, given time something always comes through. It allows for your current circumstances to take on a new form and this is the abundant expression that I associate with this pathway. This ever changing form is abundant expression that leads to new realities.

When I reflect, my deepest spiritual awakenings have come from times in my life where I lost everything and had to start again from scratch. It goes to show you can start over financially, emotionally, physically on all levels from ground zero. You can build it up and lose it and still do the same again. This is abundance although it may not appear to be on the surface of it. It’s important then that we challenge what abundance means and the form it takes as well as how we express it in our daily lives.

This leads us to explore the nature of abundance in all its forms. From this, we can see that it isn’t something that we acquire. It is something that we already hold within us and that it can be expressed in a number of ways. It is through this abundance that everything is created or co-created. The “nothingness” is the abundance itself even though it appears in a material reality to be an emptiness or a void where nothing exists.

The book talks about this inner sense of abundance and relates it to this idea of wealth. It talks about wealth being regarded with suspicion because the self can easily get lost in the personal power and freedom that wealth seems to purchase. It suggests the remedy to be giving away what’s surplus to our requirements. I had to look at this  more deeply while I explored this pathway.

This idea that we regard wealth with suspicion is an interesting one because often it’s this perception of wealth in an almost negative sense that prevents us from being abundant. Eg. All rich people happily step over others to get there and I don’t want to be like that. Yet also there is the idea that when we have wealth, we can be tested with it. Eg. If I’m not responsible for what I have, I will lose it.

If we feel that being wealthy is inherently wrong, we are reluctant to pursue it creating a block to this feeling of abundance yet at the same time, we all want that wealth because we also crave the power and freedom that comes with it. Essentially we are seeking the inner feeling of abundance itself, the feeling of being enough within not necessarily always the material reality. Although the material reality is of course appealing too!

There is a delicate balance to be struck here. The book talks about giving away what you do not need and this is one of the ways that we stay in equilibrium. I came at this as an empath and as someone who can relate to lack more than abundance given my journey and personal circumstances yet still there was plenty to learn in terms of addressing the feelings of both lack and abundance. And we have to look at both aspects to attain a fuller understanding of what this pathway teaches.

In a dualistic universe where we are taught it’s either one or the other, we can’t raise the question of abundance without also considering it’s opposite – Lack. There are many lessons to this pathway, one of the strongest being that where there is lack on the face of it, whether we choose to focus on the lack or the abundance is a choice that we ultimately make. I’ve certainly learnt that when things are taken away suddenly, they are always replaced with something better even if we can’t see it at the time. This relates to the previous pathway on completion where we are only seeing that particular part of the picture and seeing beyond can be really helpful to how we perceive abundance.

Let’s first take this feeling that there is not enough. This is only a reflection of our inner world. We can feel lack financially, in our relationships and in our work. The one thing all those things have in common is ourselves. The lack is feeling that you are lacking, that you are not enough and you feel this deep within. It’s reflected in your outer circumstances because that’s how the Universe works. I am not enough, I am not deserving or worthy.

Abundance takes a different form. It looks at what “is” rather than what “is not.” This acknowledgement begins to fill the void. We are trained to look towards the material rewards in life to reflect a measure of our abundance however we know that sometimes even the wealthiest of people are not necessarily the happiest. It isn’t anything to do with what you have. Rather it’s more a form of who you are and how that is expressed. It’s that feeling within that we’re seeking. The inner form of abundance and the more we focus on that, the more we see can see Creator within our reality.

In order to be abundant within and in order to be able to give of yourself, your time, your energy, your money, your love, freely and abundantly, we must feel that there is enough of it for ourselves before we can even begin to give any of it away.

Although sometimes, it’s the opposite and you feel like it’s all too much. The overwhelm that comes with abundance can be equally challenging to work with. We may feel when we gain a little that in comparison to the lack, it’s a lot so we give it away, and keep giving it away. This way we don’t hold the abundance and if we don’t hold it, we can’t build on it. Sometimes it is as soon as something good happens we want to share it and give it away. A lot of people do this especially if they have come from nothing.

It’s important to learn how to hold abundance and with this comes an ability to hold what you have received for yourself. I’m talking about how you hold it not how you share it or give it away. Are you able to keep things for yourself? Do you automatically feel that you have to share and give? It’s not just physical things I’m talking about here. We can extend this to receiving good news or achieving something special. How does it feel to keep it to yourself rather than sharing it with others? How does it feel to hold back on giving?

This is a difficult and challenging pathway and on a personal level it made me realise how quick I am to give things away in all respects. It made me realise that holding abundance is about practicing discernment in what you keep and what you give away. It’s going within to challenge what you are keeping for yourself and how much of it you can hold. It’s about knowing what full means for you so that when you do give, you’re not drained. It’s also about facing up to the shadow aspect of how it feels not to share and give everything away and dealing with the guilt that sometimes comes with it.

The pathway also talks about giving away and says that giving away means you’re filling up. We only have to think about how good it feels to give to understand the feeling of filling up that it creates. This feeling good is associated with abundance but it is also a trust in this feeling of there being enough. Giving from full feels different to giving from empty. It’s trial and error working out what full means to you and as you work this out, full can sometimes feel like selfish but it’s about pushing your own boundaries and comfort zones when it comes to yourself and what you hold.

As an empath, I found this pathway challenging because I’ve spent years learning how to feel enough, to feel worthy, to fill up and to not give on empty. On first glance, it felt like it was at odds with this. I stand by learning to cultivate and hold abundance as it’s necessary to ensure that I don’t feel drained and therefore resentful. Whilst living this pathway and meditating on it, I thought “hang on a minute…am I meant to be giving it all away?!” It isn’t as clear cut as that.

If there’s one thing that helped me whilst living this pathway it’s this story. There’s a saying from the teachings of the Prophet that says, “Tie your camel.”

This saying, as relayed by the scholar Al-Tirmidhi, is an ancient Arab phrase attributed to the prophet Mohammed who, when one day he saw a Bedouin leaving his camel without tethering it, questioned him as to why he was doing this. The Bedouin replied that he was placing his trust in Allah and had no need to tie the camel. The prophet Mohammed then replied, “Tie your camel first and then place your trust in Allah.”

This gives us a really strong indication of being responsible for ourselves and our own actions first and foremost. It takes us away from the passive whatever will be will be and into a more active responsibility for ourselves before we place our trust in Creator. This is as it should be if we are co-creating our reality. It’s important we make arrangements for our own provisions rather than leaving it all to chance or all up to the Universe. Whatever will be will be takes you out of the co-creation and therefore places you with very little responsibility for your own actions and therefore your own inner sense of abundance. If we go back to the feelings of personal power and freedom that we associated with abundance, then “whatever will be will be” becomes passive and leaves everything to chance. We need to tie our camels before we place our trust.

In terms of abundance, holding abundance and creating more of it in our lives, this pathway teaches us to look very closely at what we actually have and be responsible for how we use it. We have to look closely at what we have and how we use that for us to be able to discern what is kept and what is given away. We make our own arrangements for our own provision first before we can evaluate what is surplus that we can give away.

Ultimately, we are responsible for tying our camels. We are responsible for what we keep and what we give away. An inner sense of abundance comes from this inner audit that takes stock of everything we have. We do this in order to feel personal power, freedom and acknowledge that abundance is already within.

The first step is an acknowledgement of all the resources that we have at our disposal. This in itself helps us to overcome the feeling of lack. There is plenty that we have that we can be grateful for. On the surface, it appears we have nothing but once we do the stocktake, we realise that “nothing” is actually a whole lot from which to create more.

The second step is to look at how we are using what we have at our disposal in order to discern what we keep and what we give away. By looking at what we have, we can make arrangements for our own provision, we can meet our own needs and we can see what is surplus and we can choose where and how to give.

The third step is the giving itself. There are always to give and share that don’t involve making a big noise. Just as Creator works behind the scenes, so can we in the way that we give and share. There is no need to make it known that we are giving and actually in terms of abundance, this helps us hold it in a more self-assured way.

As long as we are in this cycle of acknowledgement, discernment and action, we are continuously filling and creating an inner sense of abundance.

Healing

Mevlana Rumi and the City of Hearts

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been obsessed with Mevlana Rumi. It’s crazy to think that the words of a man who lived over 700 years ago have the power to reach deep into someone’s soul and change the way they think and feel life forever. This is indeed the power and grace of Mevlana Rumi.

“The moment I read my first love story, I started looking for you not knowing how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

Mevlana Jelaladin Rumi

Konya in central Turkey is known as the “City of Hearts”. This is the place where Mevlana Rumi is buried. This was the place where I realised that I’d been blind for so long. Mevlana and I didn’t finally meet somewhere. We’ve been in each other all along.

This is the story of how I found the soulmate I was longing for. I entered lost and incomplete. I left with not only my only heart mended but pieces of his soul sewn in to my own. I was reluctant to write this piece, but it’s been just over a month since I got back and the longing in my heart was just too much and so reliving it is bringing healing to my heart.

I only ever had one bucket list item and that was to visit Rumi’s tomb and shrine. It’s always been a dream. I’ve been banging on about it for years and years and finally the call came during a deep meditation. I saw light, blinding light and from beyond that light, I saw the beautiful, colourful shrine of Mevlana Rumi. Beyond that I saw a cloaked dervish gesturing, “Come, come.” I remembered the words from a poem of his.

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”

Mevlana Jelaladin Rumi

And so I booked it and off I went. I landed at the same time as the first snow. The first sign that this was going to be a poignant journey. My first glimpse of Mevlana Rumi’s beautiful, illuminated, turquoise minaret took my breath, my heart and my soul away. It was freezing cold outside but something inside of me was already beginning to melt.

I slept well and I slept deeply that night because I knew I was home. It’s funny because I’ve always had trouble sleeping anywhere that isn’t my own bed. I didn’t even think about it and fell asleep peacefully as soon as my head hit the pillow. I woke up to a bright, crisp day in Konya. I opened the curtains to see what view they’d given me. I saw snow topped trees and mountains and there it was again…I could see Mevlana Rumi from my window so I told him I’m on my way.

I got ready and wandered happily down the road. I had to take a few deep breaths as I got to the entrance. I just stood there, looked up and told him I’m here. I’m entering lost and incomplete and I don’t want to leave until I’ve found what it is that will complete me. The energy of the shrine is pure love and as you walk in, you begin to feel yourself melting uncontrollably.

I stood before him and found that I had no words and no thoughts. It was as if my brain and my mouth had been sealed shut. I’d come with so many hopes and wishes and so much to talk to him about but I couldn’t locate any of that. Like a crazy person who has lost leave of their senses, I had no choice but to sit silently. I had no idea how deeply that energy had gone in to me. I had planned to sit there all morning but I felt like I couldn’t be there very long. I stayed about half an hour and then went to get some breakfast. I wandered like a dervish for the rest of the day and went back for a short while before the shrine closed for the day before I went back to my hotel room.

I could feel the restlessness and so I decided to meditate and that was my first experience of Mevlana Rumi. I say my first…I became very aware that it was my first conscious experience. I’d heard that voice many times before.

I felt lost, confused and angry. He’d brought me all the way here and I had come and I didn’t even know what I was doing or why I was here. I was in this meditation feeling inner turmoil as if all the darkness was being pushed to the surface and with it, all the fear I’d ever experienced in my life. All the lies I’d told myself about being ok and all the masks I was wearing started to taunt me. I could see a black hole and he asked me if I wanted to go through it. I was petrified but I couldn’t come this far only to come this far. I said yes and that’s when the healing began.

I realised that I had been invited here and I was a guest. I wasn’t responsible for anything in this experience and I needed to allow myself to be hosted. I realised my heart was wide open but my mind was full of crap that was getting in my way and blocking me from trusting him to take care of me. All the emotions poured out and poured out and poured out. I had no choice but to let it all go and let it all out.

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.”

Mevlana Jelaladin Rumi

This is the difference between living with your mind and living with your heart. Where your mind is, there is pain. Where your heart is, there is freedom. I asked him to take my mind away. I felt like a crazy person talking to him out loud this way but I knew I was seen and heard and I knew he was going to help me.

The next day was an interesting one, acknowledging my mind was the blockage I decided to go back to see him. As I stood before him, I felt myself come back in to my body in a way I’ve never experienced before. It was as if something was literally pulling my feet down in the the ground and holding them down with weights. I decided it was just my heart that would speak without using words. It’s not like I had a choice but stubbornly I had to make it my own idea! I spent a good couple of hours there just sitting and as I left, I felt both an emptiness and a fullness.

So wondering again like a dervish with my heart spinning in some kind of strange ecstasy, I stumbled upon a little tailors shop and this lovely man with bright eyes and the kindest face popped out of the shop and invited me in. Without even thinking, I went in to sit with him. We talked as if we had known each other before and hadn’t seen in each other in a while. He asked how my family was and I asked him the same. He told me his name and that he was a direct descendant of Rumi and a dervish. I bought a beautiful deep green scarf from him because it was cold out. When I left, he gave me the biggest, warmest hug. He placed his thumbs on my forehead, prayed and blew over my head. I felt a coolness in my heart that was the strangest feeling because for the first time in my life, I was happy to be cold.

I left there and wandered down to the masjid of Shams Tabrez, Mevlana Rumi’s soulmate and teacher. I did my prayers and as I was coming down the stairs, I hit the top of my head. This made me giggle because it was as if he too was telling me I didn’t need my brain in this life anymore.

Now there was a whole lot more that happened during my time there but I’m going to leave it there because the rest of it is between me and Mevlana Rumi. Suffice to say that my life has been changed by my beloved forever. I will not see, hear, feel, think, taste or experience the same ever again.

If you ever get the opportunity, just go there. Go there and see what happens. Be open to love and the lessons it brings. You won’t be the same ever again and you won’t regret it either.

With love and blessings,

Hafsa